Some time ago, The Villager ran stories about the planned stand-alone emergency room for Auburn, and other media have reported on it extensively of late. The venture amounts to a good example of the city of Auburn, East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) and Auburn University working together for the benefit of the community.

Especially rewarding is the fact that Auburn’s medical facilities continue to be upgraded.

It started with the Auburn University School of Nursing, which was born of necessity in the 1980s because EAMC was experiencing some difficulty hiring sufficient numbers of highly qualified registered nurses.

Next, from an education standpoint, came a medical school for teaching osteopathic physicians.

When Dr. Jay Gogue came here as president of Auburn University about 11 years ago, after surveying the landscape, he came to the conclusion that Auburn would be well-served to attract more federal money. The problem was that a large percentage of federal research money went for medical research and Auburn had no med school, although it got research dollars through its school of veterinary medicine.

It was by no accident that Gogue and Auburn soon announced, first in a story in The Villager, that Auburn was cooperating with Virginia Tech to bring a medical school here.

The Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) has now graduated a class of doctors.

The “stand-alone” ER that is to be located in the Auburn Research Park will not have all the precision machines that the main facility does. But it should relieve congestion in the Opelika facility. EAMC’s emergency room has about 50,000 visitors a year, while Auburn’s is expected to have fewer than one-third that many.

“Our emergency room volume has increased steadily from year to year,” then-CEO of EAMC Terry Andrus told Villager Associate Editor Allison Blankenship in 2017, when the facility’s plans were unveiled. “Ambulances don’t stop at free standing emergency departments because a free standing ED is not going to be able to take care of a heart attack victim or an automobile crash. They are for minor type things.”

At any rate, it is a pleasure to watch as Auburn’s medical facilities grow, as they surely will continue to do, thanks in large part to the medical school.

Retired Auburn Attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager newspaper and the online publication, Before going into law, he was state Capitol reporter for The Huntsville Times and state editor for The Columbus Ledger. Email him your comments about the newspaper to

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